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Sometimes Being a Girl Gamer is Awkward!

I have a rather shameful gaming admission:

My name is Geek Girl Diva and I’m a “keyboard turner”.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about (and from the conversation I had last night, apparently you and I are in the minority. Everyone knows this stuff ::grin::) let me explain.

I play World of Warcraft. I play in a very good, progression-oriented guild on Moonrunner. We’re currently in ICC, have dropped Festergut and we’re beating our heads against Rotface, but we got him to 5% and he’s gonna get dropped Friday night.

I raid 2 – 3 nights a week and I play every day in one form or another. I have 2 level 80 toons and, if you pay attention to this sort of thing, my main Felynne has a Wow Heroes gear score in the mid to high 2700’s.

In other words, by pretty much any WoW player metric, I’m good.

However, unless you count the hours and quarters I dedicated to Phoenix and Tempest as a kid at the local liquor store and my love for pinball (Oh, Pinbot, you beast!), I’ve spent more time with a keyboard under my fingers than I have with a joystick or controller in them.

So, in the middle of a conversation last night with the guys in my guild, it comes up that I use my left hand for certain spells and my right hand for others during boss fights.

And the question came.

“How do you move?”

Now, if I’d known, I would have lied. Trust me. If I’d had a clue as to the reaction, I’d have blithely said that I use my mouse. Granted, it would have meant that I’d sprung a third hand or that I somehow had massively long fingers, but I would have lied.

But, nooooooooooooooo. No. I told the truth. Because I didn’t know. How could I not know? Why didn’t someone tell me?

Me: “I use the arrow keys”

If I ever doubted whether the guys in my guild love me, the moments of silence that followed have since washed them away. Because I have a feeling that any other person would have been subject to raucous laughter or mockery (both of which I firmly believe they kept muted, hence, the love).

Once the mics were cracked, I heard the disbelief. I heard the laughter under the words as the questions followed. They were genuinely surprised. I could tell. And it took a while for me to explain, to make them understand that I’d never been mentored. That I learned mostly on my own and that I’d never been taught any differently.

So, here I am — an outted “keyboard turner” with a world of bad habits and muscle memory I have no clue how to unlearn. Sure, I can be rehabilitated, but imagine the pain I’m going to go through. I’ve got to forget what I know and learn again.

Now, I know this is tongue in cheek, but I’ll tell you something. I did feel silly and I did get defensive. Not because they teased me, but because I know they mean well and that having a better understanding of how to use my hands during the game will actually benefit me.

Still, part of me feels like I didn’t know, and should have known — like I should have had a way to learn, or that the information was out there somewhere and I just missed it.

I really do think some of it has to do with the fact that video games just weren’t a part of my upbringing. I never had brothers, or a gaming console as a kid. I didn’t have friends I played with. So, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I even really came into my own as a gamer.

Is it a female thing? Is it an age thing? Did my parents just not love me enough?

And, how do you learn these things when the normal channels don’t present themselves?

Shameful admission #2. I look like this in my dreams ::grin::World of Warcraft Series 6 Forsaken Queen Figure


  1. I realizes I’m late to the party wit this, but I’m a keyboard turner as well. WAQE, with AD for strafing.

    I can not get used to mouse move, and don’t see a need to learn. My current games are Champions On-line and Dragon Age: Origins. For CO, yes there are times I wish I had more fine tuned turning controls, but, there’s nothing out there.

  2. Scivi Scivi

    The most important thing with gaming is to play how you are comfortable. If it works for you, keep it. There are multiple ways to configure your controls for a reason.

    That said, if you want to learn to navigate with a mouse I’ll offer some advice: play an FPS game for awhile. I’d recommend finding an old copy of Unreal Tournament (2004, say) adding a few progressive skilled bots, and getting yourself blown up for awhile. In particular, try to practice shooting at the thing that’s chasing you.

    MMOs have their visual roots in FPS games. While early FPS games were strictly keyboard driven, mice were quickly incorporated for targetting and then movement. Yes, you can turn 180 with either. With a keyboard it’s always going to be X milliseconds for that turn; thus consistency and precision. With a mouse, it’s as fast as you can jerk the mouse around, which takes practice and skill for precision but can be alot faster than X milliseconds when required.

  3. Hey, as long as you’re able to progress with your guildmates, I don’t think it matters exactly how you play. Sure, using the mouse more might be “optimal”, however, you may discover trying that method just makes it worse. I actually use the mouse myself in WoW, but that is because I was introduced to FPS at an early age. :) In the end, it’s a form of entertainment, entertain yourself as you please! I know some great players that use the keyboard. :)

  4. I don’t personally hate keyboard turners and clickers. I was one from when I started WoW until late TBC. I do however hope those I raid with are willing to try and learn how to mouse turn (or as I do with my G13 gaming pad, joystick move.).

    I just know first hand how much it improved my situational awareness in raids and increased my tanking and dpsing abilities. No hate. I just believe what has been learned can be unlearned and retaught. And there’s no point laughing either way(Even though I’ll /raisehand and admit I do from time to time.). There are some horrible clickers, keyboard turners, mouse turners, and joystick players out there. Have fun playing whatever style you play!

  5. Ok, first I have to do this.

    ::points and laughs:: Bwahahahaaaa! A keyboard turner? Oh honey … ok … listen. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. Now, repeat after me … “mouselook”. :)

    In all seriousness, to each his own. My best friend is one of the best raid healers on his server. He spends every fight pressed up against a wall, FACING it. Why? So he doesn’t lag at all during the fight. For him, the entire game is just a blank screen with boxes telling him each person’s health. Yeah it’s weird … but as I said, he’s the best damn healer on the server.


  6. You have no idea how much this blog means to me. I’m a TOTAL NOOB and I just started the ST:O open beta today. I guess I’ll understand more as a I play…but the tutorial I’m getting says to use the freaking keys…is there another way to move? I use the mouse as well, but to turn – I use the keys. Because that’s what the game told me to do.

  7. Mj Mj

    Wow – thanks for making me feel better about being a key turner. I was a closet key turner, but no more. Someday, when I have a week where my husband isn’t around to give me crap, I may need to take the time to learn to actually use the mouse to turn.

    As a healer, I have my heals keybound to my mouse keys, and use the other hand to turn — we will see how it goes.

  8. I was an assassin in EQ2 and I am* a rogue in WoW. I use QWES (QE for strafing and WS for back/forward movement) to move my character, but I hold down the right mouse button to swivel my camera, thus making me a hybrid keyboard-mouse turner. The stigma w/ keyboard *turning* (not moving) is that it’s much slower than mouse turning and can be detrimental in a pinch. The fastest turning is actually the hybrid way (at least in my experience).

    As for combat arts, I use a mix of keyboard (usually for 1-5) and mouse clicking for anything beyond 5.

    *I say “am” but I’ve made a new year’s resolution to take an MMO break this year.

  9. This post and the comments has me totally lost. But then again the last computer game I loved was Set (need a functional Mac version). I am so not a gamer girl, unless you count the PS gun games like Elemental Gear. I can shot things with toy guns pretty well.

  10. I live in a text based world of muds. All I get is the use of 2 4 6 and 8. Four directions. But damn if I could not move in a jazz square super fast.

  11. I’m a keybord turner too. And as awful as that is for a caster…I played a rogue. Yes. With keyboard turning. And I DIDN’t suck.

    I tried to relearn, just like I tried to learn to use auto run (after I sprained my clicking finger by holding the mouse buttons down to move) but it never really worked for me.

    I’ve never blown anyone up, or caused wipes because of my keyboard turning, but I can’t pvp though, and I think that is why.

    I HAVE been playing FPS games though…and I think that may have broken me of the habit.

  12. Confession: *sigh* I’m not that much of a gamer. I love games when I get to play, but I suck. Since I stopped hanging out in arcades, (7th grade-ish,) my gaming ops, few and far between. Until recently. I got sucked into Oblivion, (getting endlessly mocked because I tend to turn my characters upside-down and I collect crap to turn into potions,) and Fallout 3.
    I’m left-handed and honestly, controllers just feel counter-intuitive to me, even PC games require endless re-setting of control keys for me.
    Again – *sigh*
    I vote for seeing what actually works the best for you, as a gamer. I don’t see the sense in wrecking your game just cuz you’re not doing it the way you’re, “Supposed,” to.

  13. Dan Dan

    I’ve been WASD in every game I’ve ever played, WoW included. I will mix in mouse run now and then, but my default is WASD. I did not realize that was unusual…!

  14. Most of the time its someone suggesting a more effecient way of doing things, or your gaming background, It took me a long time to use keybinds because my gaming background prior to wow wasn’t games that encouraged key binding, If no one had ever questioned your reaction times – and you can normally pick up a bad keyboard turner, the style might just suit you, however, now that you know there are alternatives, you might find your game improve.

  15. Anonymous Anonymous

    I just want to comment on why their is so much animosity toward keyboard turner’s

    Understandbly wow is a video game, and you need to respect that

    However when you dedicate your free time, to a raiding guild. Stay up 6 hours clearing trash and your on the last boss attempt for a server first kill or your guild first kill, and someone becomes the bomb, and blows up the raid because they were turning with their keyboard and ran into the tank, thats frustrating.

    Keyboard turner’s are at a horrific disadvantage for becomming the bomb, flame or acid dancing, or any time of movment or rotational type of fight.

    Think of the implications.

    Tank loses agro on a mob, and he runs off toward a squishy mage, mage is out of ice block he blinks away ( bad mages blink away from the tank good mages blink toward the tank remember this) and the mob runs after. Well a keyboard turning tank is gonna take 5-6 extra seconds on avg to get the mob back in that time any boss could 1 or 2 shot a healer. Sure you can make up for that by running agro to your tank but you shouldnt have to make up for someone’s ability to navigate.

    There are a billion other cases and reasons, PVP being a big one.

    Keyboard turning is kind of like working at an office and not knowing how to type.

    Or playing football with a baseball sure you can do it, but someone’s probably going to comment.

  16. Maaiftw Maaiftw

    I had a similar moment once with guys telling me that it was ‘not done’ to move with the keypad. But i tried it a while.. didnt suit me. And now im back to keyboard turning and spell clicking, Im still the best healer of the bunch so i dont care :)

  17. Chuckle I figured it was a mac- pc thing ::running away::

  18. For Majutsukai

    The Standard

    WASD are used for movement.

    Keys 1234rfcz are used for quick binds (heavily used spells)

    Tab is used to target

    Space is jump

    Mouselook is used for turning and pivoting (180,SPIN)

    Moving while casting is holding both mouse buttons

    Straffing is qe ) some opt not to use strafe and use q and e for quick binds

    Mouse Click can be used for anything not bound (most players use custom action bars to position heal/harm spells near target or raid frames approriately)

    Most combo spells such as Nature’s Swiftness Healing touch are made into one macro

    Click to cast is often configured for additional speed.

    For example a healer would bind his most frequent hot and flash heal to mouse button 3 left and mouse button 3 right with a click to cast addon (Mouse button 3 is your scroll wheel)

    Which brings up the most impt point a standard wow mouse has a scroll wheel which can be pushed left and right, as well as a min of like 97 buttons (actually just at least 5 are good but 7 is awesome)

    Playing especially healing with a trackpad makes baby jesus cry unless you are soloing then thats on you.

  19. Okay, wait. What’s the “standard” way? I move forward with the W key and turn with right click and my laptop’s touchpad.

    I also have click-to-move enabled and use it to autowalk sometimes when I have a long way to walk. (I discovered that if you click above the visible horizon, then you just keep walking indefinitely.)

    I just developed this way on my own, figuring out what works best for me. So what’s the “standard”?

  20. I’m probably gonna get myself in so much trouble for this but I’ve never actually played WOW. Not enough time to devote to the craft so I never got started. I have been playing video games since I got my first computer (a Texas Insturments thing that you plugged into the TV set) when I was like 6 or 7. I’m a PC and a console gamer and how I move all depends on what I’m playing on, what I’m playing, the mood I’m in, and how bad my wrist hurts.

    I tend to go arrow keys too because I think it gives me a little more presicion of movement. But when my fingers and wrist start to act up (I tend to push hard ;), I switch to the mouse. Unless I’m playing Sims and then it’s mouse all the way ’cause the arrow keys are just a pain. ;)

    The thing with games is just do what ever works for you. I’m gonna date myself here but my main strategy comes from my old days of playing Cenitpede in the arcade – one hand on the track ball, one finger laying on the fire button and holding it down until everything blows up. It always worked for me. ;)

    Psistriker (from Twitter too. :)

  21. Anonymous Anonymous

    If you never play FPS games, it would never occur to you to use the mouse for movement, so there’s nothing to feel bad about.

    Mousing is superior to keyboard turning because it’s faster and more precise, though there is a learning curve. It also gives you better control of the camera, but that doesn’t matter much if you’re not tanking.

  22. I totally identify with this. I made the transition from keyboard turner to mouse turner many many years ago, but it was a difficult time. I was late making the transition compared to my peers and I did not understand how it could possibly make that much difference. But it did. Then a few years later I started finding that as the graphics and gameplay got smoother and more realistic that I found FPSes disorienting and I gradually moved to playing lots of 3rd Person console games. So I needn’t have made the effort in the first place.

    So there you go. Do not feel alone, as I’m sure that plenty of mouse turners identify with what you’re going through.

  23. Sure blame the parents – they didn’t have video games when you were a kid or you would have said “Listen, listen, buy it”

    Apologize to no one as longer as your playing well. I can’t clap my hands in time, but I have great phrasing.

    Yo Mama

  24. I keyboard turned for a long time- I also play on a laptop (gasp!!) and I used to do a lot of wow leveling and playing in college sitting on a couch or in bed. No mouse required! But a long time ago, getting more serious about PVP cured me of keyboard turning very, very quickly.

    Now I tank and I can’t play without a mouse. It’s not so much the movement – I actually use keys to move and strafe quite a bit when I am positioning a mob/boss – as the camera control.

    But anyways – how I switched. It was long and painful. I broke myself of keyboard turning when I started to PVP because I could tell how much it gimped me by just switching cold from keys to mouse one night. It was awful. I ran around ironforge for a while just practicing moving. My gameplay absolutely blew for a week or two. Very, very uncomfortable.

    But I could tell how much more freedom I would have, using the mouse to move so precisely, and I stuck with it. I played like shit for a week or so, but eventually I couldn’t figure out how I’d ever gotten by without one.

    It reminded me of when I make a drastic change in my keybindings or learning an entirely new class/spec’s rotation. Very slow at first, but then it becomes natural with practice.

    It’s a painful transition – and like you said, you have muscle memory to deal with, and you are obviously a very successful gamer and raider. You don’t NEED to mouse move! You can play however you want!

    But – also like you said – transitioning to mouse moving could open up so many more options for you. If you’re anything like me, you will find the transition painful but you’ll appreciate the improvement to your movement if you do try it out.

    I feel for you. /hug Good luck with those pesky boys, and/or with experimenting with using a mouse!

    <3 Anafielle (from twitter)

  25. I’m a keyboard turner! haha I have gotten more and more used to moving with the mouse now that I’m trying to become more reliable in arenas.. that and macros. But u called it when u said muscle memory.

    I blame it on FPS games

  26. Thweetch
    Alright so in real time spell clicking and keyboard turning even while they may be most comfortable for most players are just bound to be slower reaction then a mouse turner.

    dosent mean you cant move with your keyboard keys however.

    USe WASD for general movement, Use Q and E for straffing.

    Learn to use Mouselook to spin on your axis, in a 360 form, 180 …

    This pretty much leaves 1-4 on your keyboard in easy reach so bind your 4 most used spells to those keys. This leaves your thumb to easily access space for jump. You can also bind F and R to your 5 and 6th most used spell or macro.

    No when casting you have easy access but if you are in the need to move and cast such as a healer hotting while navigating through flames
    Learn to move forward by holding both mouse 1 and 2 down and pivoting your mouse the direction you need this allows for a lot of control and the ability to hot and run or dot and run if neccescary. Also great for pvp.

    Sometimes with proper straffing you can negate the need to even make a complete turn. On Cthun fights for example, I could complete backwards and forward circles without needing to utilize mouselook.

    If your a healer utilize range finders like a small addon, which would mean you can position yourself optimally near your heal group and cut down on your movement needs.

    This is all learned kinda over time. My best suggestion would be to practice in an FPS Third party possible something like Jedi Academy, with q and e bound to strafe left and right respectively make sure you master spinning on your axis 180 tunrn’s
    Hunter is actually a class that makes to most usage of kiting and movement.
    If you ever watch a hunter kite.

    They often need to jump shoot.
    Because of their class line of sight make’s it impossible to dmg a mob while they are kiting so they quickly learn to pivot in the air so when they jump their movmt stays forward, quick rotate in the air allows them to get of a shot they can adjust before they land and then continue in their cowardly escape

    Hope this helps

  27. I keyboard turn too! While it might not matter so much for me due to that I am not a raider. I have gotten grief, y’know what though as long as you get the job done and have fun. That’s all that metters! I didn’t know about it until recently either so don’t beat yourself up! ;-P

  28. Jen Jen

    IMO, as long as you don’t stand in the fire and/or cause wipes, there’s nothing wrong with moving with the keyboard or clicking spells. It’s what you’re more comfortable with.

  29. Here’s my confession. I still haven’t played WoW. I keep meaning to. I have the game (a gift from a WoW player). It sits there mocking me. I just never seem to have the time.

    That and I am afraid. It looks like a game that could suck time right out of my body. I get addicted to games fairly easily (don’t get me started on the stupid CIv & Xcom franchises. I will never get those years of my life back). I don’t want to find myself not writing enough.

    I know I am going to do it. I want to hang with some of my new friends and let them show me the ropes. I now know keyboard turning is bad. Thanks for that :)

    P.S. – Tempests rocks!

  30. ZeroGravitas ZeroGravitas

    I have a similar thing with consoles. Used to use the arrow keys before mouselook came along, and learned to WASD, but I cannot get the hang of the joysticks on my PS3 for FPS. I can play Valkyria Chronicles and similar stuff, but I’m hopeless in Bioshock. I’m told practice will sort it out, but I can’t be bothered! For FPS or similar I’ll stick with the PC, and use the PS3 for FFX1V and The Last Guardian.

  31. Jim Jim

    Having played WoW for 3+ years, I’ve found the combo WASD key movement + mouse (for fine-tuned navigation) works best for me. And I use my stylus, not a mouse. HA!

  32. Keyboard turner and clicker and damned proud!

  33. I am such a hot mess when it comes to in-game movement (well, dance-floor movement, too) that I don’t EVER tell ANYONE how I move or cast.

    I do find keyboard more precise than mouse though. Just sayin’.

  34. Anonymous Anonymous

    I went through the exact same thing in my guild. I honestly didn’t know better after playing for about a year with nothing but my laptop keyboard and touchpad. A kind guildie gave me a mouse, and despite hating it at first, I know that using it has made my reactions a lot faster and my play a lot better. It only ever comes out for raids and things though, I still keyboard turn when I’m just doing dailies and stuff!

  35. Tis definitely not a female thing…I’m a guy and an absolute keyboard turner/spell clicker here. Frankly though, I find it makes things go better for me. Whenever I’ve tried to make the conversion to a mouse turner, I spend half of the dungeon facing the wrong way. Whenever I try to use my keyboard for spells, I click the wrong one and my to-be-sheeped target instead has a DoT on it…

  36. I’m confused, where is the shame in turning with the arrow keys?

    I’m a WASD mover myself with hotkey spelling and click-healing (yay add-ons!) but I’ve been known to use up and down in my time…

    There’s a stigma associated with keyboard-turning? Who knew? =)

  37. My wife actually let me know about mouselook when I kept getting pwned playing Counter-Strike. I’m a lucky guy. And still really horrible at CS.

  38. Whatever works for you – don’t let the guys give you too much crap for it! :)

    I’m a WASD mover, with a right side-mouse-click for autorun. But I’m a spell-clicker. *shrug* It’s the gaming style that works best for me. :)

  39. AWWW, you are so not alone. Growing up on PC games like Duke Nukem and Wolfenstein and Commander Keen, I don’t know if I will ever full rely on the mouse as opposed to the keys. In fact, when I get carpal tunnel, I will massage the pain in my palm away proudly while remembering the hours I spent perfecting my gaming skills before the mouse.

    So key-on gamer girl!! ♥

  40. I used the WASD keys for moving around. I also played WoW on a laptop using a touchscreen and NO mouse. People thought I was insane. But whatever. It worked for me. :)

  41. Anonymous Anonymous

    I’m a keyboard turner, and *gasp* a spell CLICKER. Shoot me now. Oh.. and I have 2 level 80’s with gear scores over 2700. Go figure!

    <3 @Baybdoli aka Kaylex/Svengaly

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